Synod’s first non-geographic presbytery strongly endorsed
The appointed working group today strongly recommended that the Korean Commission be upgraded to presbytery status.
“The working group is very much of the view that the arguments in favour of forming a Korean Presbytery strongly outweigh any arguments that might be mounted against,” said working group member Gregor Henderson.
He cited as two major reasons for the formation of a distinct, non-geographic presbytery the Commission’s competence at fulfilling its current responsibilities (that lie just short of those afforded to a presbytery) and its commitment to being a cross-cultural, multicultural and inclusive Christian community.
The growth of Korean Commission member congregations from nine to 18 was said to be further evidence of its success. It was also found to be committed to Uniting Church ethos and procedures, participatory and to be fostering of the leadership of women, youth and lay people.
The Commission has been functioning since 2004 with similar powers to a presbytery except for selection of candidates for specified ministry and the authority to ordain.
Korean leaders have argued that a representative body for Korean churches within the Uniting Church was necessary to counter lower participation in the structures of the Synod due to language-based barriers.
Korean Commission bodies are made up of representatives of Korean congregations, Synod and presbyteries who meet bilingually with the aid of translators.
In its paper to Synod, the Working Group identified around 200 Korean congregations in operation in New South Wales, 23 of which are Uniting Church congregations.
Evangelism and networking with other Korean churches is seen to be a strong area for growth, alongside mission activities with UnitingWorld, Indigenous Australians and rural ministry.
Kisoo Chang, Executive Secretary, said the Korean Commission was the fastest growing group in the Synod.
“Of course the number increased is not the definitive goal for Korean churches,” he said, “but it shows that the Korean Christian community sees the Uniting Church in Australia as a recognised and respected church and as the symbol of multiculturalism and strength in diversity.
“It also sets apart the Uniting Church from other traditional churches in Australia as the church who shares resources and their leaderships for spreading the Word.”
Tabled proposals concern the naming of the potential new presbytery, the absorption of all Korean Commission churches in the Synod unless they opt-out, the finances involved and the membership make-up of a Korean Presbytery body.
Synod is scheduled to decide whether or not to approve the change on September 26.